Raspberries have just started to appear in these parts, namely in my back yard. These luscious little bursts of flavor are just perhaps nature’s Sweet-Tarts, only so much better.
A couple years after taking up residence on this acre, volunteer raspberry vines moved in. At first I was tempted to demolish the thorny things, but when they produced and I found their fruit to be as succulent as anything we’d foraged up in Islesboro, Maine, when I was a child and used to wander off the road into forgotten lots, I let them stay, with an occasional re-routing of their invasive tendencies.
Mother should have won an award for NOT dropping her basket of berries when she inadvertently stumbled into a bee or hornet’s nest one day up there on that island years ago: She ran like the dickens (as they used to say) over uneven and thorny territory, and we swore she lost none of that booty. Islesboro in the seventies was a great place for foraging. Besides the berries, we foraged steamers, mussels, periwinkles, and if we’d known then that sea urchins were edible, we’d have had a ton of those to forage, too. Having read Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Eyed something or other just before one of those visits, I had us harvesting sea spinach and a variety of other salt-loving vegetation, as well.
The thing about raspberries, the red ones anyway, is that the foraged variety seems to be far more tasty than the cultivated. I’m not just talking comparisons with the supermarket raspberries, which after all sit around for awhile, but with the cultivated red raspberries people plant in their back yards. These, like the ones we hunted down in Maine, are to die for. Straight off the vine.
Perhaps I will let enough accumulate in one spot that I make a cobbler; perhaps not. I like the way they dissolve, one by one, against the roof of my mouth, just a little bit of pulp for texture.
This year for the first time there is a volunteer black raspberry plant. The berries on this of course are red before they turn black, but they are hard to the touch, and anyway a black one was already ripe there, to warn me. The leaves are smaller and darker in comparison to the neighboring red raspberries. I’m finding that the black raspberries, at least from this plant, are nowhere in the same category of taste as the reds, but they’re still good.
The whole idea of foraging: Just finding your food; not planting it — well, it does save a few steps. Brings me back to my primitive ancestors, which gets me thinking on the co-worker who’s gone on the Paleolithic/Caveman diet. For her, the majority of processed food is right out, not a bad thing to be avoiding. So’s bread. I guess we humans shouldn’t have so much grain, either. The diet involves a lot of veggies (but NO legumes, as cavemen wouldn’t be able to eat them without preparation — for some reason the diet inventors see fit to include sugar snap peas in the restricted list, despite them being highly edible, in with the black beans and so forth); and meat (for some reason they see fit to exclude poultry dark meat, as if the hungry paleolithic hunter/gatherer/forager is just going to pick at the breast and toss away the rest. Mind you, in paleolithic times, the ratio of white to dark meat on whatever birds they scrounged up was a lot less than on today’s chickens and turkeys).
My very own first food foraging each spring is the onion grass that grows in my lawn. I could probably also forage on young dandelion greens; and is it purslane or plantain?
But I’ll worry about those, later. Right now I’m intent in waiting patiently for more bounty from my raspberry accomplices. Ripen, you guys!!!!
Rating: these red raspberries: 6 out of 5.
Rating: the black raspberries: 4 out of 5.